NASA has published a 360-degree tour (above) of their Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The tour provides a glimpse into the facility where astronauts are trained for space walks on the International Space Station (ISS).
The heart of the laboratory is a huge training pool that offers astronauts a certain weightlessness and enables them to experience conditions similar to those in space. During pre-mission training, the crew members get into the water in their full astronaut gear and work on submerged replicas of the space station.
NASA claims the training tank is “the largest indoor pool in the world with over 23 million liters of water,” but adds that despite its size, it is still not large enough to hold the entire space station, so certain sections of the ISS will be after Used as needed.
NASA’s 360-degree video shows two astronauts entering the water for a training session. The camera even goes underwater to take a closer look at the astronauts’ activities. Of course, swimming in full astronaut clothing is not an easy task, so accompanying divers gently push the astronauts around the pool to the appropriate places. NASA notes that anyone who steps into the pool uses oxygenated breathing gas – also known as nitrox – due to the pressure underwater to reduce the chance of experiencing the turns after a long training session.
In addition to the pool, the video gives a glimpse into the control rooms that monitor activity in the water, and we also see a model of NASA’s Orion spacecraft that should be on its way to the moon shortly.
You can watch NASA’s 360-degree video with virtual reality (VR) glasses or on your smartphone. When viewing it on a laptop or desktop, don’t forget that you can pan the image to see the view in all directions.
For more information on NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, check out this video showing French astronaut Thomas Pesquet training before his launch to the space station earlier this year. Pesquet will undertake several space walks with his astronaut Shane Kimbrough during their time aboard the orbiting satellite.